Men’s soccer finds home in Sun Belt

Photo by: Heather Yeomans

Will Cheney

The Georgia Southern University men’s soccer program will officially be making the

move with the athletic department to the Sun Belt Conference.

Back when GSU accepted its spot in the Sun Belt, the conference did not sponsor

men’s soccer, so the future of where the team would play was in question. The Sun

Belt has decided to re-introduce sponsored men’s soccer beginning in the fall of

2014.

“Since last spring when we announced the department’s move to the Sun Belt, we’ve

been working hard to find a conference home for our Men’s Soccer team,” Athletics

Director Tom Kleinlein said in a news release. “It took some out of the box thinking

and conference partnerships, but we were able to come up with a great solution that

gives our student-athletes a chance to compete in a league for an NCAA Tournament

bid.”

There are to be six total programs to participate. There will be three full-time

members: Appalachian State University, Georgia State University and GSU. The

league will also feature three associate members: Hartwick University, Howard

University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

“The reintroduction of men’s soccer to the Sun Belt Conference means that we will

be able to provide valuable opportunities for student-athletes and deliver them

a first-class championship experience,” Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl

Benson said in a news release. “Our new affiliate members provide us with a full

field of competitive teams and we welcome them to the Sun Belt Conference.”

There will be a conference championship and the game will be held at one of the six

institutions’ home fields. Winning the Sun Belt’s soccer championship will also mean

an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to compete in the Sun Belt Conference

in 2014 and beyond,” Head Coach Kevin Kennedy said in a news release. “I believe

this is going to be a very competitive conference and I know that our student-

athletes are looking forward to the challenge of this upcoming season. I would like

to applaud the efforts and hard work of Tom Kleinlein and Dr. Brooks Keel. Their

leadership and vision in helping to create this league in such a very short time has

been nothing less than extraordinary. I believe this is a real success story for college

soccer and I’m proud that Georgia Southern is going to be a part of this league.”